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If a co-worker asks you out, is that sexual harassment?

On Behalf of | Jul 5, 2024 | Sexual Harassment |

Unexpectedly, one of your coworkers asks you if you’d like to go on a date. You never really considered office dating, and it’s not necessarily something you are interested in. Maybe you’re worried about it creating an awkward situation if the date doesn’t go well. You politely turn them down.

However, you then start wondering if this constitutes sexual harassment. You didn’t have a prior romantic relationship with that person, and they put you in a difficult position. Perhaps you know that the company frowns on office dating, even if it isn’t prohibited. Did this person violate your rights?

It depends on how it happened

It really depends on the specifics of the situation. If the person was polite and simply asked you one time if you would like to go on a date, and they accepted it when you said no, then it is probably not harassment. They’re not prohibited from doing this, at least not by modern employment laws.

However, if they wouldn’t take no for an answer and they kept asking you out, that could be harassment. Once they know where you stand, they need to accept that or it could create a hostile work environment for you.

Another thing to consider is whether or not coercion or manipulation were involved. For instance, if your boss tells you that you’ll get a promotion if you go on a date with them, that could be quid pro quo sexual harassment. These are the types of decisions you need to make of your own free will, not because you have been manipulated or because you’re worried about losing your job if you turn them down.

If you believe that you have experienced sexual harassment, carefully consider the legal options at your disposal. 

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